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In the Land of '$2M Is Not A Lot'

Here is the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by broker David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. This week, as part of Whale Week 2013, he goes hunting for mighty listings. (Last week, he broke down the South End's condo market since 2005.)

I went whale-watching last Friday, and viewed a world seldom seen by most Bostonians, the everyday happenings inside the Hub's priciest listings.

The first whale I spotted was Union Wharf's Townhouse 25, a rare three-floor, three-bedroom in an "enclave of privacy" on the waterfront. TH25 has a house-like feel, more than 2,000 square feet of renovated living space and Harbor views from every floor. This whale weighed in at $2.8 million. Carmela Laurella, one of Boston's most successful waterfront brokers, says the buyer is probably an "empty-nester." She says in this price range purchases are "always cash" and that "if the right unit comes on, $2 million is not a lot in Boston."

The next whale I spied was at The Intercontinental (500 Atlantic Avenue), one of the waterfront's newest luxury residential condominiums. Amenities at The Intercontinental include 24-hour concierge, doorman, valet parking, room service, catering, spa treatments and fine dining.

Dinny Herron, who has sold many Intercontinental condos, speaks enthusiastically about the "personal" feel to the building and its "inclusiveness." While its residents comprise a wide range of demographics—graduate students, families, retirees—its diversity is perhaps best described by a look at the public record, which shows a Saudi-Arabian prince and a former Bruin as owners of units. What they have in common is the same trait of a lot of waterfront buyers: wanting to be near the water.

I saw Unit 16K in The Intercontinental, which has one of the building's most appealing three-bedroom floorplans. 16K's enormous living/dining area is on the end of the curved portion of the building, which its architect designed to mimic the billowing sails of the historic tall ships that once navigated the Harbor below. 16K has incredible views, more than 3,000 square feet of living space, and weighed in at $3.595 million.

The last whale I glimpsed was at the Heritage on the Garden (300 Boylston), a building which when it was developed at the end of the 1980s was said to have the "the best address—short of Louisburg Square—in Boston." In those days, it also housed Boston's most expensive condo ($2.75 million).

The Heritage's Unit 905 has one of the best views of the Boston Common you are likely to see. It also has more than 1,900 square feet, a smart floorplan, and a balcony off the back bedroom. It weighs $3.2 million.

Wendy Fox, a broker who knows the ins-an-outs of Boston's best buildings, tells me the Heritage's staff will take out owners' Christmas trees; help set up for a night of entertaining; or even change a light bulb. Wendy emphasizes the privacy of the building, its classic Boston feel, and, of course, the excellent location. She says this home gets shown three to four times a week, and the buyer is likely to be someone from the area or someone from California or another country who would buy to be close to children attending school or living in Boston.

Ah, the natural environs of the Boston whale. There's nothing like them ($$$$).
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]
· Our Whale Week 2013 archive [Curbed Boston]

Union wharf

343 Commercial Street, Boston, Massachusetts